Author: John Marsden
Publisher: Joy Street Books
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“Scarred literally by her past, she has withdrawn into silence.”
Written in the form of a diary, John Marsden’s first young adults’ fiction is a beautiful narration of a young girl who is so affected by her past that she has become mute by choice. A praiseworthy feature here is that though the backdrop of this book hints at a depressing tone, this story proves to be an anomaly in this aspect. The protagonist’s narration is innocent, fresh and at times even becomes funny from her point of view. Marsden has done a splendid job in keeping the authenticity of the format alive for it is so effortlessly natural that the reader almost gets the guilty pleasure of reading someone else’s diary. He has also successfully captured abounding emotions and teeming perceptions in 150 pages.
This Australian Book of the year traces the life of a teenager, Marina who is transferred from a hospital into a regular boarding school with the hope that she will return to normalcy. Initially, she has hybrid emotions of love and hate regarding this decision, but finally develops a tentative liking for the school and her class mates. Yet, she continues to suffer from “anorexia of speech”(as she puts it); finding respite only in the task of maintaining a journal that is set by her English teacher Mr.Lindell, who plays an instrumental role in penetrating through the wall that she had built around herself. Marina’s journal entries provide an insight into her intense yet innocent emotions and convey the words she doesn’t speak. It explores her complex relationship with her mother, the volatile relationship with her father, her love for literature and the feeling of trust that she develops(despite her repeated attempts to curb it) towards her school and the Lindell family. Eventually, the seemingly impassive Marina develops non-verbal means of communication with the people around her. The reader is compelled to ponder when Marina asks questions like “Is music a form of communication?” or when she feels that some of her happy-go –lucky classmates haven’t exactly been through her sort of trauma and yet they find themselves as lonely and scared as she is.
‘So much to tell you’ also touches upon common teenage issues and effectively captures the Vibrance of the life in a boarding school. Thus, the novel has a fair share of funny and light-hearted episodes, as well as thought-provoking and touching moments.
The most striking feature of this book is that Marina’s past is not directly stated or revealed; the reader discovers it bit by bit through her narration. It is like a jigsaw puzzle where the narrator’s journal entries are like jigsaw pieces that when put together finally paint the picture of her past the day when it all happened, the day she changed.
Marina harbors an emotional lesion and still retains her fair-mindedness, care and sense of humor. The climax has an amazing analogy with the title of the book where Marina finally finds her closure and withdraws out of silence.